Dodgers Prospect Notes: Chris Newell mashing, Peter Heubeck rolling, Dalton Rushing big week, Jose Meza leading ACL team, more

Jose Meza
Jose Meza (Photo: Cody Bashore)

Top Farm Batter

Former Virginia outfielder Chris Newell has had a nuclear week at the plate, taking hold of first place of the Midwest League in homers. He homered four times in six games and now has 14 on the season, which leads the Dodgers farm system.

Newell has a powerful left-handed swing that can crush the ball when he makes contact. Despite the 14 home runs, he is batting .222 with a 32% strikeout rate. However, he boosts his on-base ability with above-average plate discipline that has resulted in a 15.5% walk rate.

The 23-year-old pairs his three true outcomes hitting approach with a glove capable of handling center field when needed or being above-average in the corners. He has done a good job elevating the ball this year, which was something he struggled to do after his High-A promotion last year. If he keeps hitting for power like he has so far, Newell could find himself in Double-A sometime soon.


Top Farm Pitcher

Peter Heubeck has made big strides in his third full season as a pro. He struck out a career-high 11 batters across five great innings in his start last week. The Beloit Sky Carp offense managed just two hits and one run against him.

A 2021 third round draftee out of high school, Heubeck’s strikeout numbers have gone way up while his home run rate has plummeted. Homers were a big issue for him over the previous two years, but he has yet to allow a single one in 2024. His 36.8% strikeout rate leads Midwest League starters by a large margin.

Even with his success and even 3.00 ERA, walks have remained a problem at a 15.1% clip. Command is the only aspect missing from Heubeck’s current profile, as the strikeouts are prevalent and his .181 opponent average shows he has been missing barrels. He is just 21 years old and will likely spend most of 2024 in High-A working to refine his control.


Triple-A Oklahoma City Baseball Club

In his first week back in Triple-A, James Outman was the best hitter in OKC’s lineup. He slashed .333/.556/.565, homering once and stealing a base. That said, Outman struck out in one-third of his plate appearances.

Outman will look to get himself back on track in Triple-A and get back to the Majors as soon as he can. With Andy Pages deep in a slump, it’s not impossible to imagine the two center fielders switch places if Pages continues struggling over the next couple weeks.

Hyun-il Choi tossed an excellent game for OKC, going seven full innings and allowing only one run. Choi has been hugely helpful to the organization this year, riding a shuttle between Double-A and Triple-A to fill starts in either Tulsa or OKC when they are needed. He has posted a 4.82 overall ERA despite having never appeared above High-A before 2024.

Landon Knack made a good start of his own, allowing one run in five innings to go with five strikeouts. Knack has completed five innings in all six of his Triple-A starts this season as well as three of his four Major League games, with the only exception being his last start where he fell just one out shy of getting through the fifth.


Double-A Tulsa Drillers

Dalton Rushing had a big week for Tulsa, slashing .286/.423/.714 with three homers and nine RBI. He launched his first grand slam as a pro in a five-RBI performance Monday. Rushing has shown the best parts of his game in his first Double-A season with seven homers and a 13% walk rate.

Although it didn’t come with his typically higher strikeout numbers, Justin Wrobleski made another quality start last week. He allowed one run in a season-high 6 1/3 innings and has now made back-to-back starts with at least six one-run innings. The 23-year-old southpaw has shown off his plus command with a miniscule 3.2% walk rate so far in his first Double-A season.


High-A Great Lakes Loons

Thayron Liranzo had a clutch week at the plate, picking up walk-off hits on back-to-back nights. The switch-hitting catcher slashed .409/.519/.500 overall across five games. He has not hit for as much power as he did last year, but that is still his calling card and can be expected to increase along with the temperatures in Michigan.

Noah Miller picked up the other walk-off hit for Great Lakes in their entertaining week. The former 36th overall pick has had his most productive offensive season as a pro in his first year in the Dodgers system, posting a 113 wRC+ and .262/.358/.388 slash line so far in 2024.


Single-A Rancho Cucamonga Quakes

Bobby Miller and Evan Phillips each appeared on rehab assignments with the Quakes on Sunday. Miller, who has been out since mid-April with a shoulder issue, threw 55 pitches in three innings. Phillips has been on the IL for just under a month with a hamstring strain, and he struck out two in a clean inning for the Quakes.

Southpaw Garrett McDaniels made his best start of the season, tossing four innings with both runs against him being unearned and four strikeouts. The 24-year-old found success as a short-stint reliever for the Quakes last year but was moved to the starting rotation for 2024. He has a 3.38 ERA and 26.2% strikeout rate this season.


Rookie Ball

In less high-stakes rehab news, outfield prospects Ryan Ward and Damon Keith each appeared in rookie games on rehab assignments. Ward has been on the shelf since early May from Triple-A, where he homered 12 times in 27 games to start the year. Keith hit the IL after opening night in Double-A.

Corner outfielder Jose Meza has gotten off to a great start at the plate in the Arizona Complex League, posting a 1.103 OPS through 17 games. This is the 21-year-old’s second season in Arizona and fourth overall in rookie ball. The Venezuelan could get his first Single-A chance this summer.

Talented right-hander Samuel Sanchez was dominant in his best start of the young season. The 18-year-old Venezuelan struck out seven in four shutout innings, with one single being the only baserunner to reach against him. Sanchez has a high velocity fastball and could be a young arm to keep an eye on.

Outfielder Jaron Elkins had a great six-game stretch at the plate, slashing .435/.500/.696 with his first professional home run. The Dodgers’ eighth round pick last year, Elkins has big athleticism and strength despite being only 19.

About Bruce Kuntz

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I'm a Long Beach State journalism student and I've been writing about the Dodgers and their farm system since I was in high school.